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skelly
02-19-2012, 07:56 PM
I recently set up at a show, looking to thin out my collection a little. I had some nice stuff priced well below ebay / smr prices. Mostly stuff from the 50's. Had some stuff that is hard to come by that was all third party graded. Examples would be 59 bazooka's, Home Run Derby, Lake to Lake Packers cards, etc... Also did the 50 cent box thing with commons from the 50's and 60's in both football and baseball. Had vintage wrappers & display boxes, etc...

My question is, what can a dealer expect to make at
1.) small local type one day show
2.) larger show

I mean I was rock bottom on stuff, but only made a couple hundred dollars. An example would be I had a 52 topps duke snider that was graded a 3 for $40. Also had a clean 52 Hodges for $20. I mean I just can't go any lower than that. Other vendors had these same cards for 30-100 dollars more in worse condition. Overall I had fun, but financially I did 10 times better setting up at my mother in laws yard sale & the local flea market. Thoughts, advice, comments.

Kzoo
02-19-2012, 08:07 PM
I set up once a year at a local show (actually, it was last weekend) and after four years, I've come to realize that hardly anybody wants to spend any money and everybody wants everything for nothing, even when it's already really cheap. That being said, I was shocked and actually did the best this year, selling over $400 worth of......I can't remember.......so it was nice to move stuff I wasn't attached to. In past years, I sold in the $150-225 range. The cheap, oddball stuff always sells the best, but once in a while somebody will surprise you. I've had a showcase full of some nice '50s stuff in past years and I've had the 50 cent and $1 bins at really decent prices, but not much of it ever sells. I've learned to really not get too excited about selling anything at that show. I do much better at a flea market I set up on Memorial Day when I'm selling memorabilia instead of cards. IMO, the cards always sell better, and for more money, on Ebay.

Matt

skelly
02-19-2012, 09:16 PM
Matt,

Thank you for your imput. I guess one thing I am still confused about is do dealers really expect to make money, is is setting up at these shows more or less a "guys" day out, etc.. and a chance to network with other dealers? What can a dealer expect to make at the National when I would guess just the transportation/hotel and table fees would run over a $1000.

Tony Gordon
02-19-2012, 09:34 PM
I set up at shows every single weekend and have done so for the past 11 years. Prior, I would set up occasionally going back to the '80s. A couple of things I've learned over the years is that price is only part of the equation. You have to be a regular dealer in order to earn more than just a few hundred dollars at both small and large shows. You have to gain regular customers and foster relationships with other dealers. You also need a lot of patience and a thick skin. Some people just won't approach your table no matter what you have and no matter what the price. They won't give you the time of day. Accept it and move on. Others will get to know you, you'll get to know them, learn their collecting interests, and probably become great friends. I put a TON of prep work all week long filling want lists and pricing cards I know will tempt my regulars. The more I prep, the more I earn.

My best shows are the small ones where I can count on my regular customers. I used to set up at flea markets but never made much money. I now stick with small card shows. There is never a guarantee that I'll have a good show. One week may be terrible while the next week tremendous. The bottom line is to have fun. I love it and am thankful for the outlet. I regularly blog about my shows at www.fatdaddyssports.com.

HaloFan
02-19-2012, 09:58 PM
I've been setting up at a local show hosted by my local card shop, and after three experiences of setting up, you really have to lower your expectations if you want to sell anything. I read on boards where guys have tons of PSA graded cards at reduced prices that do not sell. I don't find casual collectors to be too enamored with graded cards even if it's a $1. I've actually been surprised at how many VG 80s and 90s cards I've sold at 10 cents a piece but that's what you will see at these shows. These shows are more a gathering place for local fans(mostly Angels in my area) to meet and intermingle than turn a profit.

It appears(in my area) that players of the local teams, all the auto and relic cards, vintage cards under $5(condition does not matter), and memorabilia will sell. Beanie Babies, Starting Lineups, those plaques with the players card on them seem to be everywhere and they don't appear to sell. The table fees at these shows are really low and most of the stuff I bring are unwanted crap from my childhood. I've talked with the other "dealers" and we agree that if we were paying $50-$100 a table, we could not sell what we've been selling.

I don't make much selling 10-cent cards, but I'm there to meet people/collectors and even educate new ones. A kid about 11 years old offered me a Derrick Rose RC card for my two $5 beaten up 1952 Topps cards and I did the trade because the $$ didn't matter too much at that point and I might have turned him into a future vintage card collector as a result of that.

Craig

ctownboy
02-19-2012, 11:19 PM
Years ago (pre-internet days), I was a small time dealer setting up at some small shows. Because I was young, didn't do a lot of shows and wanted to sell as much as possible (so as to get moneyh to go out and buy more stuff that I collected) I would price my items low.

After doing a few shows and not making much money, someone finally clued me in; I was UNDERPRICING things too much. It was BECAUSE I was young, didn't do many shows and had low prices that people weren't buying things from me---they thought I might have been stealing them!!!!

So, after that, I jacked my prices up to where most of the other dealers had them and I sold more stuff. Go figure.

Today, with so many online auctions and eBay, I don't know if that would work or not.

David

bbcard1
02-20-2012, 06:00 AM
It all depends on show traffic. As much as you hear griping about the fees on ebay, I think it's the way to go for midgrade names from the 50s. Put rare stuff, even if it isn't nice, in auctions...I listed a rough Mantle StarCal decal from 1952 with Dave from Baggers (no sellers commission) and probably made six times what I would have sold it for outright.

olrac44
02-20-2012, 07:12 AM
The market isn't what it used to be. I think the bigger money cards people are comfortable buying online either on ebay or auction houses as it is easier to search for. At shows people are more interested in hunting and sifting through hundreds/thousands of smaller cards, which are easier to look through in person instead of searching for hours typing in search words on the Internet. Also they can search for the best card and the best price that on Internet instead of settling for one or two of that card at a local show.

A dealer I know has 25 cent boxes and dollar boxes. Most people like looking through the 10 and 25 cent boxes so he stopped bringing those boxes and brought more 1 dollar boxes and guys started buying more $1 and $5 dollar cards cause there weren't any quarter boxes. I think shows have just changed due to the internet.

The National is a different story as that is more of an event. I think people are still coming to buy bigger cards.

Exhibitman
02-20-2012, 07:52 AM
I set up at a 3 day show recently. I sold virtually nothing except stuff from the $1 and $5 boxes I put out.

steve B
02-20-2012, 08:25 AM
Yep, you did way better than the two shows I did. I split a table with an acquaintance who did autographs. Total take on the day for me - 10 cents.

The other one I had a table to myself. I think I might have almost made back the table price.

At one I heard the stuff was too old, at the other that it was too new.

I have done well at flea markets I've done with family, especially if I leave the table and let mom sell the cards:eek: She's tougher on price, and a certain sort of customer likes to think they're geting a bargain of the little old lady while her son is browsing other tables.


I did do some work for a stamp dealer, who did well at stamp shows. He had quite a few regualar customers, but made most of the money before the show. The dealers did lots of business during setup. They all have specialties, and buy collections through their shops. Then they resell the collections largely intact to someone else. Eventually it ends up with a regualr that goes to a dealer for that particular sort of thing.

My favorite sale ever was to a young kid, maybe 4-5. He had a handful of change, probably about 37cents and wanted cards from the commons boxes. And asked how many he could get. I told him if it was ok with his mom he could have as many as he could hold in two handfuls. I think he ended up picking around a hundred or so and I bagged them so he could carry them. I also added a pretty big handful beyond that and a couple better cards. Watching him pickout the ones he wanted and seeing the huge smile was worth way more than the cards could ever be.

Steve B

barrysloate
02-20-2012, 08:29 AM
Buyers may need more time to reflect on big purchases. When an expensive card appears in an auction, a buyer usually has a couple of weeks to consider all aspects of the purchase, including how he is going to raise the funds to pay for it. At a show it may be difficult to spend thousands of dollars on the spur of the moment.

As far as the mid grade Topps cards the OP was trying to sell, they are too common and can be bought anytime. It is a tougher market, and despite what some people may feel, shows are not the future of this hobby. People feel more comfortable today buying online. The oversized clear scans most auctions provide are exactly what buyers need, and the often poor lighting at shows is not the ideal environment to make a big deal.

And I should add I haven't been to a show in well over ten years.

TheHobbyWGR
02-20-2012, 10:01 AM
Was just discussing this Saturday on my radio show, The Hobby. I agree with the overall point - that walking into a show, setting up and listing low is not enough. My friend Bob and I were expecting a bit of action merely from having nice graded stuff available at eBay prices or lower. Didn't happen.

Doesn't appear that Saturday's episode is up for some reason but here is a link to others, if you're inclined.

http://audio.wgr550.com/the-hobby.htm

Mike

edhans
02-20-2012, 11:08 AM
And I should add I haven't been to a show in well over ten years.

Barry,
What's it going to take to get you to put in an appearance in Baltimore this year? Bribery? Kidnapping? Or just dinner & drinks?

barrysloate
02-20-2012, 11:13 AM
Barry,
What's it going to take to get you to put in an appearance in Baltimore this year? Bribery? Kidnapping? Or just dinner & drinks?

Chloroform.:)

Hankphenom
02-20-2012, 11:27 AM
As far as making money at shows, that's tough. Most dealers have been around a while and have developed a niche, an expertise in buying and selling a certain segment of the hobby. Very few make a real living at it, most are weekend warriors. But as far as enjoyment of the hobby, there's nothing like them. And if it wasn't so much fun, you wouldn't have nearly as many of the part-time dealers as there are. And shows will never go away for that very reason. There's nothing like the excitement and anticipation of walking into a show, or setting up at one, looking forward to two or three days of action of one kind or another, going out to dinner with other hobbyists, being on the road, all of it. I can't understand why anyone who's into this stuff would forgo those pleasures to sit at home and buy and sell on eBay or in auctions, get your money or objects in the mail, and that's it. Where's the thrill of that? Shows will be around until the day that human beings have more fun being with their personal digital devices than with other human beings. I hope I won't be around to see that day.
Hank Thomas

David W
02-20-2012, 11:35 AM
I went to a local show in a motel conference room in Fort Wayne Indiana last month (first show I'd been to that wasn't the National in several years). There were probably 12-15 people set up.

My observations:

1 - 2-3 guys still had boxes and boxes of 87 to 95 crap. It was priced at 10 cents or 25 cents, but I had no desier to sift through thousands of 89 Donruss or 91 Topps hoping to find something I might want.

2 - One guy had several thousand 50's to 60's cards but nothing priced. It was annoying to pull a card out, and wait while he dug through a Beckett guide to tell me it was $1 or $3. If he had priced it before hand, I've have probably bought $50 worth of cards. As it was I spent $5 on 2 cards.

3 - I did spend close to $100 at a tabel sorting through well organized boxes of 50's to 70's cards that were all priced, and bought about 20 cards for $60 or so. He also had decent pre war and graded cards in his display case, all priced.

4 - I like to buy some modern cards of Cardinals or Bears, but no one had it at this show.

5 - One guys display case was full of beat up 70's baseball and football at NM prices. I never saw him sell one thing the 2 hours I was there.

In summary, I'd say organize it, price it low, and don't bring thousands of worthless cards and you can be successful.

sycks22
02-20-2012, 12:06 PM
Going to shows is fun when you find the right dealer than will give you fair market value for your cards and will work in some trades. When you show someone a Ty Cobb that sells for around $2k and the dealer knows he doesn't have $40 in his pocket it's always funny when they respond with "I'm looking for higher graded cards" and when you look at they're selling a '66 Topps Snider with 2 corners missing for $25, but list the high book price on the plastic. For every good dealer out there you find 10 that think their cards are amazing and tell you how much they make every show, but still have 99% of the same cards every time you see them. Those are the best dealers.

Hankphenom
02-20-2012, 12:22 PM
For every good dealer out there you find 10 that think their cards are amazing and tell you how much they make every show, but still have 99% of the same cards every time you see them.
Really? How do they stay in Business? Bit of an exaggeration, I'd say.

Leon
02-20-2012, 12:22 PM
A few of my own thoughts. As Hankphenom said, the shows, to me, aren't about just selling and buying, it's the whole experience. I absolutely have as much or more fun after the show, just hanging out with hobby friends, having a few cocktails and dinner. If I buy or sell something at the show then that is the icing on the cake. But for me, the cake is the total experience of the show and all that surrounds it.

Also, there used to be more single, private sales of larger ticket cards. Nowadays barely anyone wants to buy something as a straight private sale. They want it to go to auction where they can either -

1. Hope to steal it (so to speak) for a very low price
2. Feel comfortable they aren't the only idiot willing to pay almost that much (as the underbidder is right there too) for an item.

I love shows and will definitely keep doing them, if nothing else, for the camaraderie alone. I always go to them with the expectation that my money spent doing the show is entertainment. I don't expect to buy or sell anything so I am never disappointed. I guess I am fortunate, every single show I have ever done has been great (from my point of view). best regards

sycks22
02-20-2012, 12:25 PM
Really? How do they stay in Business? Bit of an exaggeration, I'd say.

My question to you is: Name 1 show that isn't in the decline outside of the national? I would say that many of them aren't staying in business.

I know a lot of old timers that set up at shows to make a couple bucks, but more to just talk about cards.

mintacular
02-20-2012, 12:26 PM
If you selling/dealing at a small show or flea market here are my observations mostly as a buyer, but occasionally as a seller:

1) Mid-grade or better star cards are difficult to sell for a fair $ unless they are local i.e. pittsburgh/clemente

2) Dollar boxes singles $5 under do fine of mainstream sets if $'d right, same with high #'s like '72s

3) Lower your expectations, have "fun" and think of it as weeding out some extra cards so if you only make a few bucks it doesn't feel so bad

4) The most successful dealers at these venues have been doing it many years and have repeat/loyal customers

5) Pre-war cards in low grade really only way to go, not going to get someone to pay $100 for an ex common

As for flea markets, expect a bunch of fleabags trying to "flip" your cards, these people root around looking for great deals, don't take it personally it's just the type of buyer you see there

Hankphenom
02-20-2012, 02:34 PM
My question to you is: Name 1 show that isn't in the decline outside of the national? I would say that many of them aren't staying in business. I know a lot of old timers that set up at shows to make a couple bucks, but more to just talk about cards.

The Chantilly show, in its 15th year, is bigger and better than its ever been, just booming, really. Marco's Edison show last June attracted a big crowd and I had a great show, I think it will be even bigger and better this time since the Hunt VF cancelled. And VF, although badly mishandled in the transition, is still quite viable for a lot of dealers and collectors, IMO, and might even come to its glory days eventually. I've been doing shows for 15 years, going to them for 20, and for me just about every year has been better than the last, and I'm doing so much better now than in the so-called heyday. Shows are expensive to do, so no dealers stay in business long without selling their stuff, although it does seem that some dealers find it painful to think about parting with any of their precious inventory at a reasonable price. But I guarantee they're selling something to somebody, or they wouldn't be there. Having said all this, I have no argument with your general proposition that the number of shows is diminished and a lot of show action has moved to the net and auctions. I just don't see them going away any time soon, for all the reasons Leon pointed out, and if future generations want to pass on them entirely, I guess maybe they'll be gone about the time I will, too. That's fine with me, I could care less what younger folk, or those of any age who find shows a waste of time today, choose to do. I just think the reports and claims of the demise of shows are quite premature, I don't like to see them disparaged unnecessarily, and I will do them and go to them as long as I can walk.
Hank Thomas

Tony Gordon
02-20-2012, 02:48 PM
A couple of comments on trading and buying from customers at shows. As a dealer, there is no benefit for me to trade. Trading does not help me cover table fee. I am also constantly purchasing cards and always have deals in the works and need funds. I regularly buy and sell a large amount of cards and don't need trades to turn my inventory. The only time I will trade is when a regular customer wants to trade and there is some cash in the deal.

As for buying, I will never pay you fair market value for your cards because I strictly buy for resale. You shouldn't get offended either because I can't cover my table fee if I'm paying retail prices for cards. If you want more than 25 percent of book, don't bother trying to sell your cards to dealers, it's just not cost effective for dealers to buy your cards.

And for those who say shows are in decline, you a terribly mistaken. There are terrific one day shows all over the Midwest every single weekend.

Leon
02-20-2012, 03:36 PM
A couple of comments on trading and buying from customers at shows. As a dealer, there is no benefit for me to trade. Trading does not help me cover table fee. I am also constantly purchasing cards and always have deals in the works and need funds. I regularly buy and sell a large amount of cards and don't need trades to turn my inventory. The only time I will trade is when a regular customer wants to trade and there is some cash in the deal.

As for buying, I will never pay you fair market value for your cards because I strictly buy for resale. You shouldn't get offended either because I can't cover my table fee if I'm paying retail prices for cards. If you want more than 25 percent of book, don't bother trying to sell your cards to dealers, it's just not cost effective for dealers to buy your cards.

And for those who say shows are in decline, you a terribly mistaken. There are terrific one day shows all over the Midwest every single weekend.

Show me a "book" price on half the cards I collect and I will show you an incorrect price. I absolutely understand the rest of the statement and agree. When someone says "book" to me, I chuckle. I do understand that is the way modern stuff is done though. I went to a very small local show on Saturday as one of the promoters said a guy was bringing in some T206's and they wanted some help with them. I went over....looked at the nice vg to vg+ cards and gave him very close to market prices on each one. No book :).

barrysloate
02-20-2012, 03:59 PM
What seems clear is some people love shows, and some people prefer selling via auctions or on the internet. Seems reasonable to me. I'm not a show guy, never was, but I do understand many collectors and dealers really like them.

sycks22
02-20-2012, 04:44 PM
I love going to shows as much as the next guy, I'm just saying that there were a ton more in the '90's. It's always fun going there and talking cards. Unless you have a great relationship with a dealer at a show why pay $200 for something that you could find on ebay for $100? The most laughable price ever was a guy who had a '54 Topps Banks in probably g-vg condition, but put it in a gigantic case and marked it $1,500. I asked him sarcasticly if that was his price and he said "I'll do half book, it's a rare card". I laughed. He even had a zip up bag for the card, classic.

mintacular
02-20-2012, 04:49 PM
I still value looking at a card in person and will "overpay" for cards like '57s, 71s, etc if I can hold the card in person. I can't tell you how many times I've bought cards (even ones w/very large scans) on eBay or online but when I received it in hand it did not meet my approval. For this reason alone, I think shows/on site card buying will always have some customers (assuming collecting cards survives the test of time)

brett 75
02-20-2012, 10:17 PM
Feel lucky that you have shows that you are able to go to at all . The closest shows around for me are at least 2 hours or more away and usually only come once every couple of months if that often. I personally would love to hunt through boxes of vintage cards at a show and be able to have them in hand than to see them on the net. Shows can continue to help the hobby as by the post from the member who gave all the cards to the child , a small thing like that can leave a lasting impression . Don' t give up on doing a show because of one bad weekend , you never know the next one might just surprise you, Brett

Oklahawg
02-20-2012, 11:17 PM
Hit my first show in 1977, Rock's Dugout in Wichita, KS, sponsored it. Sales were "slow" by the era's standards (or so I learned) but there were some decent deals on cards coming through the door.

For 3-4 years every show I hit in the midwest had copious amounts of cards walking through the door to be purchased (if you were savvy enough to get around the show promoters who wanted to auction them and take a cut) at deep discounts.

You could offer a fair $$ to the seller and still turn a profit, often the same day. Its been forever since a local "mall" show had anything I cared about. And, not sure how many months since the last one was hosted here in OK.

I remember the day I saw a guy walk in to a show with 1400 uncirculated Red Man Tobacco cards, acquired from his Dad who worked in the packaging plant. You couldn't chase away the dealers with dynamite - some behaving professionally and others not so much. The guy got jittery, wound up at the local shop 2-3 times investigating his hoard.

Now? He's a collector having sold not one of those cards. First met him in 1978 - I was a first contact in the parking lot having retrieved a sandwich from the icechest in the backseat of Dad's car. He wanted $50 and I didn't have that much with me. Just imagine...